Checklist S32965518

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Owner David Bell

  • 1
  • 1.5 mi

Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 1.4.107


  1. Number observed: 1

    Comments: 3 swans total. I was stumped by this ID challenge so I reached out to various people know more about this than I do, including Steve Rottenborn who is a leading expert on swan ID. I've been told, and I agree, that 1 is a definite Tundra (the right / rear most in flight) and the other two are probable Tundras but not certainly identifiable. See comments and photos below regarding the 2 other swans.

  2. Trumpeter/Tundra Swan

    Number observed: 2

    Comments: Adults, either Trumpeter or Tundra Swans. Rare here. I see just one prior Tundra Swan record for Quail Lake in eBird, and Trumpeter is rarer still in Southern California. A group of multiple unbanded adult Trumpeter Swans would be extraordinary. For that reason alone I initially listed them as Tundra Swans, but I now think they belong as Trumpeter/Tundra Swan. I'm continuing to work on the ID, but at this point it isn't clear to me that TRUS can be positively eliminated based on what I observed and in some ways the birds perhaps are a better fit for Trumpeter.

    Distant photos. The photos on the water were taken from about 1.3 mile (2km) distance. The photos in the air are perhaps 0.6 mile (1km).

    I first saw the birds from near the parking lot, when they were present at the extreme east end of the lake. I took a couple of photos of the birds on the water (attached) at a range of approximately 1.3 miles. I ran down to that end of the lake but when I arrived they had left. At that point I was quite confident that they had left and were not hidden on the lake, although in retrospect I suspect that they circled the small island staying out of my view. About 30 minutes later they flew by from west to east and continued to the east toward the Antelope Valley, which is when I took the photos of the birds in flight from the north side near the canal inflow, with the birds flying roughly above the south shore. At their closest they were perhaps 0.5 miles away, and my photos are probably from 0.6 to 0.7 mile range after they had passed me.

    I never heard the birds call, which surprised me a bit when they were in flight. They were close enough that I would have been able to hear them easily if they called in the very quiet conditions.

    Looking at the photos, these are adult swans with mostly or entirely black bills. That feature, plus structure eliminates Mute Swan as well as most (all?) swan species in the world except for Tundra and Trumpeter. Arguably the rear-most bird may have some yellow visible in front of the eyes, although it is very hard to be sure about that.

    When I have seen Tundra and Trumpeter Swans together, Trumpeters seem clearly much larger (like ~20%). The front bird in flight might be slightly (~5-10%) longer than the middle bird; and the rear bird is perhaps a touch smaller than the middle bird. I conclude that this flock could conceivably be mixed, but if so they don't have the obvious size difference I have observed in the past. They are most likely all the same species.

    The more I look at these photos, the less confident I am that I can identify them with certainty. Some features suggest Trumpeter to my eye (like the apparently large bill relative to head size, and the shape of the curve from the eye to the base of the bill), especially on the front 2 birds. However, the angle isn't good and the photos are distant. I can almost as easily talk myself into them being a good fit for the facial pattern of Tundra: in some photos the eye looks barely connected to the black of the bill. I will seek the opinions of birders who are more familiar with this ID. On the water, the one bird with it's neck extended upright does seem to have a very long, straight neck, maybe suggestive of Trumpeter but again not diagnostic.

    Also the fact that there were three and they were apparently adult is unusual. A quick (i.e. not complete) review of the reports of Trumpeter Swan for Southern California suggest that most (or all?) were immatures. Also about half of the recent reports have involved birds that had neck bands.

  3. Number observed: 3
  4. Number observed: 15
  5. Number observed: 70
  6. Number observed: 40
  7. Number observed: 5
  8. Number observed: 1
  9. Number observed: 65
  10. Number observed: 300
  11. Greater/Lesser Scaup

    Number observed: 100
  12. Number observed: 200
  13. Number observed: 75
  14. Number observed: 3
  15. Number observed: 155
  16. Number observed: 2
  17. Number observed: 300
  18. Number observed: 50
  19. Number observed: 20
  20. Number observed: 40
  21. Number observed: 100
  22. Number observed: 5
  23. Number observed: 1
  24. Number observed: 2
  25. Number observed: 1
  26. Number observed: 300
  27. Number observed: 7
  28. Number observed: 5
  29. Number observed: 7
  30. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Photos. Dark nape with sharp contrast in vertical line with white throat. Uniformly curve from top of head to nape with a bit of a bulging impression to the rear of the head/neck. No white above waterline.

    The attached photo of the bird gives the impression of a small and perhaps slightly upturned bill, suggesting RTLO. However, this is different than the impression in the field. If you have concerns about the ID let me know and I can add some digiscoped photos that show other angles.

  31. Number observed: 250
  32. Number observed: 7
  33. Number observed: 2
  34. Number observed: 1
  35. Number observed: 3
  36. Number observed: 1
  37. Number observed: 2
  38. Number observed: 4
  39. Number observed: 1
  40. Number observed: 2
  41. Number observed: 3
  42. Number observed: 3
  43. Number observed: 1
  44. Number observed: 2
  45. Number observed: 1
  46. Number observed: 1
  47. Number observed: 2
  48. Number observed: 5
  49. Number observed: 16
  50. Number observed: 2
  51. Number observed: 3
  52. Number observed: 1
  53. Number observed: 12
  54. Number observed: 2
  55. Number observed: 1
  56. Number observed: 2
  57. Number observed: 25
  58. Number observed: 5
  59. Number observed: 25
  60. Number observed: 10
  61. Number observed: 15
  62. Number observed: 2
  63. Number observed: 2
  64. Number observed: 10
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